Wasn’t it typical that I hadn’t managed to avoid it but had walked right into it JUST AS NIGHT FELL – the price I paid for succumbing to distraction was imminent danger, which had come, as always, through a gap in concentration. I never wanted to go back in there – once was more than enough – and I needed to leave in the nick of time in order to avoid a second difficult incarceration.
With a supreme effort of will, the three of us combined took to ultimate flight at the precise moment that the tendrils of night whispered at us to enter the realm of soul-stealing witches and other marauding terrors of darkness. Thank heavens we managed to escape - drowning in lost cities was one thing, but indeterminate periods of imprisonment by mindless entities was quite another and I had no wish to re-enter the domain of dark fairy-tales. As one we flew, the chill down our spine startling wings into stunning action. The cackles of hollow laughter trailed in our wake as with all our hearts we wished and hoped and prayed to be there in the land of our forbearers, the Elysium fields of classical repose, where the bright sunlit day is endless as the pages of history, the only destination befitting of pure untroubled reason - my right.
Now I know that we travelled for a very long time indeed, back into time from the future projection of living energy. We did not, however, arrive back at the one precise time from which we had departed (though we could hardly have expected to do such a thing) and when we arrived back in the city it was clearly in the midst of all eras and everyone was there.
So, all were present, and movement could be free without fear of attracting attention, although the teeming influx of people, not to mention an inordinate amount of traffic, brought new hazards for wee travellers such as ourselves. The frenetic activity of the present age jarred slightly with the multiple layers of history and it was generally quite confusing whenever our paths crossed with that of someone we actually knew. My boyfriend, for example, bumped into me several times and seemed always to be in the middle of either going to work (or otherwise driving off in his car somewhere) or sorting out a place for us to live. Once or twice he spoke to me but I was convinced he didn’t know where we really were. My parents, meanwhile, were in the midst of some extraordinarily active site-seeing when I saw them, and hardly spoke to me at all, except for a hint that my mother gave me whereby she directed me to follow a crowd of highly motivated teenaged tourists who evidently knew where they were going and would do well at school..
I had no option but to follow her suggestion and trailed after the other kids along the open-air corridors – or cloisters, perhaps – of a large, cool structure with vaulted marble ceilings, the origin and age of which I failed to determine. As I turned left along the last corner and saw the downward steps into the great open-plan court I finally realized where we were all going. Just ahead, over on my right, was the top portion of the Octagonal Byzantine Basilica, which I had not seen since going to Rome at my coming of age, marvellous in itself, but not the main site my mother had thought I should see. I thought for a moment about my father and wondered how he was coping with all of this – I assumed he would have preferred to be at home in the garden but he had evidently psyched himself up for a mammoth trip: Good for him, he had managed to catch a glimpse of what everyone had come to see.
Down some more steps and across the soft marshy area where a pack of students had managed to find space for a picnic, was the beginning of the previously undiscovered Hellenic structure, clearly either in the advanced stages of a prodigious restoration or, quite simply, virtually intact since the day it had first been built. I was truly amazed, for surely these were some of the most historically important remains of a bygone age ever to have been discovered. I could hardly believe my eyes as I looked at the wooden buildings held carefully together by pegs and a sort of mortar, and wondered what it could have been.
After a sound examination of this superb archaeological specimen my academic historical interest was at last aroused, and I was then determined to join the greatest of the college buildings, my fear having subsided sufficiently for me to at least enter. With no trouble at all beyond that previously described I walked through the gates and went straight into the heart of the university matter, somehow more at one with reason and consciousness – no doubt because I would need to have a few more wits about me in order to survive in my chosen academic field. My chosen academic field was the one I knew practically the least about, having ditched it in school through lack of interest and resumed it purely on a whim, so I saw my time as an opportunity to fill in a few gaps in my education.
I had no prior knowledge of the meaning of history although I did have some skill at looking into the past. As I wandered awe-struck through the college environment, which at close quarters was literally stunning, my attention was so utterly captivated by what I saw that I could not say whether I got into the actual subject or did nothing but my own thing. The sky was blue, picked out with one or two wispy clouds, but somewhere I perceived an unmistakable sound, maybe thunder, possibly the vibrations of battle, or something like the roar of a vast waterfall.
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